The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 4, 2013

Are you a help or hindrance when you see a firetruck?

Move it on over

— If you are driving along Jefferson Street in Athens and you see a firetruck roaring up behind you, do you know what to do?

Many motorists don’t know and a few probably don’t care. Either condition can result in an accident or a delay in providing firefighting or emergency medical service to someone in need.

“It’s a major problem,” said Athens Fire Chief Tony Kirk. “When I was growing up I remember my parents saying if you see an emergency vehicle, just stop and they will go around you. Well, that might have worked in 1975 when there were fewer cars on the road.”

With the July Fourth holiday underway, and heavy traffic all around, Kirk offers motorists this advice:

“They need to open up that far left lane so we can get through,” Kirk said. “Pull as far to the right as possible and stop your vehicle. Most of the time everyone forgets.”

Kirk said firetruck drivers are trained to approach all vehicles from the left.

He said when motorists are sitting at a traffic light in a left turn lane and there are “wall to wall” cars, the car or cars in the left turn lane should pull over (to the right) in front of the person in the next lane when it is safe to do so. This leaves an opening on the left for fire trucks.

The state’s move over law, which motorists are becoming more familiar with, applies more to emergency vehicles pulled over onto the roadside. It requires the following:

• Two lanes: Move over (away from the vehicles on the roadside) as far as possible without leaving the lane and slow to at least 15 mph below the posted limit if the speed limit is 25 mph or higher, or slow to 10 mph if the speed limit is 20 mph or less.

• Four or more lanes: Move over one lane (away from the vehicles on the roadside) or, if it’s unsafe to move over, slow down to a speed at least 15 mph below the posted limit.

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